For the last 20+ years, I’ve spent a large chunk of my professional existence getting people working in development projects to think differently about their target groups than they’ve ever thought before.


Because when you become more obsessed with your target groups than you do with your project — or your organization, or your implementation, or your solutions, or your brand, or whatever you really want to call it — then that’s when the true innovation can really start to occur. Communication can attain tangible impact.

Yet, the truth is, most development cooperation projects can’t get out of their own way when it comes to innovation in terms of their processes.

And the reason?

It all comes back to the stories (or lies) we tell ourselves as projects.


Well, over the years I’ve found the least innovative development projects share certain statements within their culture — statements they literally take pride in that are in reality a massive detriment to their success. Here are the seven:

  1. “That’s just not how WE do it.”
  2. “We could never do that in OUR organization.”
  3. “That would never work for OUR client.”
  4. “That’s just not the way OUR target groups would listen to”
  5. “That wouldn’t work for OUR process of creating communication products”
  6. WE’VE been doing it this way for years and it hasn’t failed US yet.”
  7. “But OUR field is different.”

Notice the pattern?

Yep, they all start with the project or organization, NOT the target group.

Even the ones that mention the target group are, in reality, project-centric.

And because of this, the obsession with the target group doesn’t truly exist.

And because of that, innovation doesn’t occur in development cooperation projects in terms of communications.

Such is the story of development organizations all over the world.

But here’s the cool part: It doesn’t have to be this way.

Organizations CAN change.

Mindsets CAN evolve.

And a target group obsession CAN lead to unbelievable innovation within ANY development project.